Zvi Hauser takes top spot in Knesset’s powerful national security committee
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Zvi Hauser takes top spot in Knesset’s powerful national security committee

Assuming chairmanship of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Derech Eretz MK says he’ll provide civilian oversight to the military to help Israel through tumultuous period

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Derech Erez MK Zvi Hauser is named the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset on June 1, 2020. (Adina Velman/Knesset)
Derech Erez MK Zvi Hauser is named the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset on June 1, 2020. (Adina Velman/Knesset)

Derech Eretz MK Zvi Hauser on Monday was named the new head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which oversees the military and other aspects of national security and diplomacy.

Hauser is taking over for Gabi Ashkenazi, who left the role upon becoming foreign minister, as part of a coalition agreement.

“I am glad to be here. I asked to be made chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. This wasn’t a fallback option, and I am proud of it,” Hauser said upon being voted into the position by the committee.

“We are in the end of the third quarter of the first century of Israel’s independence. We are still the ‘founding generation’ and we find ourselves building the machinery for the factory of ‘renewing the Jewish people’s sovereignty in the land of Israel,'” he said.

Derech Erez MK Zvi Hauser is named the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset on June 1, 2020. (Adina Velman/Knesset)

The committee, one of the most powerful in the Knesset, oversees Israel’s national security and foreign affairs through legislation, budget authorization and supervision over the relevant ministries.

“We are challenged by the moving of the field of battle from enemy territory to Israeli population centers. We are challenged by a Middle East still in the throes of an ‘Arab Spring,’ which puts before us possibilities and opportunities of changing borders in the Middle East,” he said.

“As chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I intend to express the concept of national security in its widest understanding. Alongside generals, we need civilians who come from different disciplines and with a different viewpoint,” Hauser said.

A lawyer by training, Hauser, 51, served in a variety of government roles as a civil servant, including cabinet secretary, before entering political life as a member of Ya’alon’s Telem party — which was eventually absorbed into the Blue and White party — ahead of the April 2019 elections. Following the elections in March, Hauser and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel left Telem to form their own party, Derech Eretz.

The committee includes senior lawmakers from the government and opposition, including three former defense ministers (Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman and Telem head Moshe Ya’alon); three former IDF generals (Likud MK Uzi Dayan and Yesh Atid MKs Orna Barbivay and Elazar Stern); the former head of the Shin Bet security service Avi Dichter; as well as Meretz chief Nitzan Horowitz and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.

Shas MK Yinon Azoulay, Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, Likud MKs Sharren Haskel, Gideon Sa’ar and Miki Zohar are also members.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, along with the House Committee and the Finance Committee that approves the state budget, must be staffed on a permanent basis, and hold meetings even in the run-up to or immediately after elections to approve or oversee the most vital functions of government.

Despite the lack of a normally operating government for over a year, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has continued to oversee the military, the security-related aspects of the coronavirus pandemic response, and other issues.

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